September 26, 2019

In one of the many books written by an atheist about Christianity over the past several years (I forget which one), the author suggests that one should look with suspicion on any religion whose dominant and most recognizable symbol signifies violence, torture, and oppression. The importance of the cross to all Christians, regardless of their many important differences, is indeed worthy of attention. One of my early childhood memories involves waiting for a cross to arrive in the mail, selected… Read more

September 24, 2019

Yesterday was the first day of autumn, which is good thing, because autumn is (by far) my favorite season. This is not surprising for a native New Englander—fall weather is the best that the Northeast has to offer, promising cloudless skies, reducing temperatures, turning leaves, and no humidity. I love it. But those of us fortunate enough to be living the academic life welcome the beginning of autumn, as well as the advent of October in a week, for more… Read more

September 22, 2019

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a talk given by one of my heroes. As I drove Jeanne to the airport on Friday morning to catch a plane to West Virginia, she expressed her disappointment at being prevented by work duties from attending the talk with me. “I feel like I’m going to hear the Virgin Mary or something,” I said. What I heard on Saturday was a compelling and inspiring prophetic call to action. I first encountered Joan… Read more

September 19, 2019

A conversation heard behind the scenes: Dude! Did you see what just happened?? How could I?? I’m in charge of the freaking luggage today and am stuck way back here. Why is the crowd always biggest when I have luggage duty? The big guy just got dissed in front of everyone! Are you shitting me? Tell me! He was already in a pissy mood and this woman kept nagging him and bothering him until he finally put her in her… Read more

September 17, 2019

An item popped up on my Facebook news feed a couple of days ago reporting that Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird had recently been pulled from a junior-high reading list in a Mississippi school district. Lee’s novel has raised controversy ever since its publication for racist language and dated racial stereotypes, but in this case the explanation for banning the book was straightforward. The school board president reported simply that the book “makes people uncomfortable.” As a… Read more

September 15, 2019

The best argument in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story. Richard Powers Although the name of this blog is “Freelance Christianity,” and it is published on Patheos’ “Progressive Christian” channel, I regularly attract comments from readers who do not fit those categories by any stretch of the imagination. Occasionally, someone using arguments and language I recognize from my evangelical Protestant upbringing will respond to my “liberal” or “non-Christian”… Read more

September 13, 2019

We should read the New Testament as saying that how we treat each other on earth matters a great deal more than the outcome of debate concerning the existence or nature of another world. Richard Rorty, “Failed Prophecies, Glorious Hopes” One of the many things I enjoy about teaching philosophy is that I regularly get to engage with students in studying the texts of thinkers labelled as “dangerous” or worse by various authority figures in my youth. Darwin . . …. Read more

September 11, 2019

Everyone beyond a certain age can remember clearly what they were doing eighteen years ago when they heard the news. I was in my college’s main cafeteria getting coffee and noticed something weird happening on the Today Show broadcast on a television hanging from the ceiling in the corner. At that point all they knew was that one of the Twin Towers was on fire, apparently because an airplane had crashed into it. I had scheduled office hours that morning, so… Read more

September 10, 2019

I have grown weary of trying to understand the unquestioning support that Donald Trump receives from thirty-five to forty percent of the American electorate, and continue to find certain aspects of that support both frustrating and fascinating. Trump supporters often say things like “He’s saying things that many of us have been thinking for years but have, for any number of reasons, not been able to say. He speaks for us.” Which raises the question—How much of what we believe to… Read more

September 8, 2019

A few days ago, Pete Buttigeig, mayor of South Bend and candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, was interviewed on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” One of the many things that has made Mayor Pete an unusual candidate is his willingness to talk openly about how his Christian faith has shaped him, both as a public servant and as a person. In answer to Joe Scarborough’s wondering whether Buttigeig believed that Jesus Christ was his “Lord and personal Savior,” Mayor Pete… Read more

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